History Coursework question on WW1

The First World War was the result of many complex ideas combined that kick-started the war in 1914. It can be justified that there were many different people and countries that all had a part to play in starting the war. However, a large extent of responsibility can be placed upon the German government & ideology in the long and short-term.To analyse the uprising of long-term problems from the start, we can push back until the unification of a powerful German territory/country in 1871. The significance behind the formation of Germany lies as to what the people who gathered to create Germany all wanted from a modern country? Therefore, we need to focus on the major factors such motive and intentions. The motive and intentions behind this country came out to be a creation of German-speaking people in a rich and powerful country, meanwhile, attempting to prevent war. This seemed a difficult task considering that the present superpowers of the world were near enough settled and rid of tensions at that time.We can see that German ideology ran through high status government individuals, e.g. “Welt Politik”- World Politics (Caprivi, new Chancellor after Bismarck), “Social Darwinism”- survival of the fittest, Europeans are the most advanced and can march into any country and take over (Hitler believed in it) and “Imperialism”- wanting to create an empire. As we can see, theories like these were likely to cause disruption amongst other countries and seemed quite physical in terms of needing a powerful army to achieve them. Germany’s aims were to keep peace and that could be done by not unsettling the present superpowers (Britain, France, Russia and Austria-Hungary-A-H) Consequently, and some could say inevitably, this created the first sense of “paranoia” (a key feature which we will come to see) that other countries will feel threatened by the sudden ambitions of Germany.From this point forward, the other countries were encountering a first-time experience on a newly formed country wanting to progress into their “rankings”. Germany, whose top priorities were to develop, Nationalism, Imperialism, Militarism and Capitalism may not have realized it but they were sure to unsettle the balance of power/friction if they continued and succeeded with their aims.As Chancellor, Bethmann Hollweg said in 1914 in defense of his defeated Germany, “once the dice were set rolling, nothing could stop them.” However, if by looking back all the way it can be said, the unintentional motives and intentions of Germany in 1871 set the dices rolling without taking a cautious approach and looking at their aims from a wider consideration. (I.e. effects on other powers.)Following on from Germany’s enthusiastic or fearful arrival meant that Germany’s actions which involved strengthening the government physically or economically in any way, would be seen as an attempt to achieve dominance. This is exactly what occurred. Germany’s industrialization was rapidly increased and this too benefited the economy. It was then only second to the U.S. in terms of industrialization.However, if we consider Germany alternating to increase military power first, rather than industrialization, tensions may have increased earlier and Germany may have realized to take a step down. On the other hand, war could have broken out much earlier and as many countries may not have been involved.We have figured that the German government was definitely expanding industrially and economically; therefore, we can use the dice metaphor in this situation too. Furthermore, as figures and statistics were increasing within the government, it meant that major competition was resulting of the gradually uprising of paranoia. Continuing from the establishment of a country introducing tense worries, which were unintended in the start, but could have been eased down by taking careful measures. For example, sharing their worrying intentions with other countries to calm down situations. Germany’s motive to not do this was driven by Otto von Bismarck (Chancellor) who intended to keep peace in Europe and at the same time, leave tensions simmering which was driven by the motive for other countries to feel as if the need Germany to resolve matters that occur between superpowers.As a result, this motive developed Germany into the strongest industrial power on the continent. In contrast, Bismarck’s method of being Chancellor in the German government and not wanting to create total peace at his own will unsettled the balance of friction. In addition, the German people would not have seen these small tensions to be effective in creating a tragic war; therefore, unknowingly they were increasing the alert of other countries because making Germany feel wanted had drawbacks rather than explaining their peace tactics.The major superpowers were led to drastic incorporation and the alliances undoubtedly provoked isolation. Alliances could gain countries support in terms of finance, military and troops. This advantage helps the country become more superior over others. On the other hand, the superpowers may have hesitated too much and could have immediately placed Germany’s actions and later on, their intentions, to be seriously threatening.The main intention now apart from the anchored motive of developing Germany, was to ensure Germany’s security. Yet another move was to create short-term separation against the countries in alliance or more likely a long-term separation. This effectively occurred gradually, although, German alliances had attempted peace in some situations to a certain extent. The Drekaiserbund involved the “Tsar of Russia,” the Kaiser (Germany) and the “Hapsburg Dynasty” (A-H). This was basically due to the family relations of these individuals. As Germany progressed with the alliances they still carried with them, “a two-sided strategy.” Germany’s long-term disputes over France’s increasing recovery over the Franco-Prussian war in which they had been humiliated was becoming a concern for Germany. The first attempt for German security was the Dual Alliance in 1879, which was between Germany and A-H, which stated both would support each other in the events of a Russian attack only. Any other Power attacking and they would show neutrality. This was surely an act by the German government who would definitely send out concerns/paranoia that a country wanting to expand would make alliances with a superpower of their choice so soon. War thoughts were erupting in minds created by German growth.Soon after Germany surely realised they could have aligned better and therefore, “The 3 Emperor’s Alliance” in 1881 was well strategised even if it was a cunning plan underneath. This was again between Russia, Germany and A-H. This time Germany could ensure France’s isolation by preventing a combined Franco-Russian attack. This is because the terms were all 3 countries could count on neutrality if attacked by anyone. Hence that German security was boosted. However, they still remained to a peaceful European intention by preventing was occurring due to Austro-Russian unsettlements over land such as the Balkans. Although Germany may have attempted peace we can see that the other Powers have cooperated with peace terms and have not stared events leading to friction or war. This can be confidently said that Germany’s intentions progressed and as of this Germany were playing a bigger part in every step they took.It is only then we see Germany have pushed countries into making moves and this results in mere campaigns about a Franco-Russian alliance. Even this was an act from a Pan-Slav. Germany’s immediate response follows with the Triple Alliance in 1882, an agreement which we can comprehend one step earlier that it may strengthen German security and increase France’s isolation. This exactly, was intended and once again an alliance was formed involving Italy with A-H and Germany. This shows Germany was slipping away from the motive of European peace, which may have not been deliberate. However, they started to draw in countries to what could have been the actual motive of needing power & expansion.They certainly were provided with security because they had a strong feeling that France and Russia would not attack alone so in the event of a French attack the Triple Alliance would bring support.From these alliances we can see that Germany’s responsibilities towards war were starting to show on the outside by focusing more on isolating France and just really thinking about themselves rather than before, when they may have caused unintentional mistakes. Later on however, giving Germany the benefit of the doubt was starting to wear away and they were trying to secure themselves only. Consequently, Germany was increasing their role, especially after securing and later enabling Germany to indulge in the luxury of colonial ventures.Effects of paranoia could be increasing to the next level as the German government increased towards extremely high achievements.As tensions grew between the Great Powers, Germany’s high influence on tensions was seen as conspicuous. With the following tensions over the Arms race and Naval race, Germany found themselves creating individual tensions with individual countries. Once again this was not an accident in creating massive competition, however, it was a “natural expression” of Germany’s economic power and growing overseas trade. The German navy officer, Admiral von Tirpitz had done a powerful job in creating a “power-political instrument.” This was successful enough to make Britain’s naval power concerned. Hindsight, this was seen to be fearful due to obvious that at the time, naval methods were capable of obtaining colonial power. On the other hand, it was enough for Britain to see Germany trying to obtain colonial concessions from Britain.We can analyse the fact that poor achievements from Germany in the Arms and Naval race may have been seen as a pathetic yet slightly startling attempt. However, some government individuals in Germany may deplore the fact that Germany initiated many negotiations attempting Germany’s security and making it too prominent whilst they were competing in economic power. More negotiations in 1909 with Britain were involving Germany offering a relaxation of the progression of construction for three years. Yet again, involving a country (Britain) to steer clear during a Franco-German or Russo-German war. Hindsight the failure of proper negotiations may have been positively effective overall, as we can infer that, had this offer been agreed there might have been no “rescue” from Britain. Also another positive is that the Arms and Naval race issue came as one of the last and most important major issues meaning if it had come any earlier, Britain may have been sucked in. in other words, many countries were restricted from actions following the negotiations that were introduced.The Arms race created rivalries with many countries including the Superpowers. The damage done was immense. It conveyed, more clearly than any other issue, all the latent fears and suspicions of Germany’s aims.Consequently, this would have pushed the Powers to the next level of paranoia and begin to create a sense of security for themselves. This was partly due it the physical actions of this issue as it were clearly visible and could be linked with greed leading to serious destruction. This upbringing of a serious issue involved economic factors controlled by the German government to a large extent. Although, the argument of other countries overreacting to Germany’s actions was starting to fade away.Drawing closer to the war in 1914 seemed as if the responsibility of the war was about to be unveiled with hardcore evidence. An astounding “Fischer Thesis,” had evidence to be recognised and still had drawbacks. For placing blame against the German government, the Fischer Thesis would be a strong factor, however, to provoke Germany’s innocence we would have to see the whole information as a mere “suggestion/interpretation.”Firstly, the Fischer Thesis’ aims were to prove German war guilt. In it consisted German “war aims” supposedly by Bethmann Hollweg, which we can interpret to be closely linked with Germany’s previous actions, which have an even stronger link with what the German government wanted to achieve- German dominated “Mitteleuropa” (Middle Europe). After analysing what factors Germany focused on previously, and achieved, they give support to Fischer’s Thesis of Mitteleuropa. We can examine the factors that their government drove towards such as, colonial acquisitions, alliances & agreements and increasing economic and military power (Arms & Naval race).We know that all these factors help strengthen a country to its maximum, especially in case of a war. As a result, this would support the evidence of Fischer explaining that the German government knew what they were doing and had strong intentions of creating a German-dominated Mitteleuropa, knowing well that Superpowers already existed within Europe and would cause disruptions or even “war.” Furthermore these ideas would need careful planning if Fischer actually did prove their aims and would have existed before the 9th September Memorandum in 1914.The second importance to Fischer was a top-level meeting in Berlin December 1912. Here was “interpretations” as to how events would occur whilst war was breaking out. This second information was again linked to the Schlieffen plan 1891 introduced by General Schlieffen. This shows Fischer’s suggestion backs the point of Germany being prepared for a war. This could have meant that who else other than a country (Germany) that may have been ready for a war, would consider a plan many years before.Following on, we can see that the “Blank Cheque” given to A-H for backing was an indirect attempt top make sure their plan went accordingly. The simple reason being that without this cheque Germany would enter war for no reason and in addition, this would be seen undoubtedly as Germany making matters worse. Therefore, after this the German’s hoped for war to escalate automatically from the tensions that they did not try to resolve earlier to make Germany feel wanted, which also backfired. It is a surely confusing coincidence that Germany gave no specific backing to A-H but instead a “blank” cheque. In addition to Germany hoping for a war, was the government’s second reason to step in- Russia’s “mobilisation,” which could be seen as an excuse.Therefore, the government’s strategies were starting to open up and may even be exposed. Up to this point we can see that all the Superpowers except A-H had not taken significant action until now. By now it was a case of, whoever Germany had the most impact on, had to take action. In this case due to the alliance and Blank cheque to A-H made Russia mobilise.However, the last step even if it was the killing of 1 man compared to the killing of millions during WW1 had become the vital trigger. Knowing that the trigger of this war had an extremely important role meant that either Germany played it slightly clever and let someone else play the trigger or that Serbia was bound to launch an attack on A-H due to the conflict over wanting freedom- so A-H had put themselves in that position.The killing of Arch Duke Franz Ferdinand on June 28th 1914 had sparked a major cause to “drag” in the superpowers. At this stage it seemed A-H took some blame by combining with the idea from the German government to send an ultimatum to A-H consisting of impossible circumstances. We can understand Serbia’s actions slightly because they wanted their rights and it will only be a matter of time until they (Black Hand- a Serbian terrorist group) undertook violence.At this stage the countries were running in; A-H undoubtedly declared war on Serbia; Russia’s mobilisation was the best news for Germany so that they could get involved due to the Blank cheque; at the same time was their chance to use their Schlieffen plan against France. However, they thankfully made a mistake by marching through Belgium, which Britain had to protect due to an old agreement.By analysing it could be said that Germany was trying to do exactly what the other countries ad done to become superpowers, however, there would be a “natural” sense of paranoia where Germany would reach a level where they would start to threaten the powers. In the beginning it was primarily the misunderstanding of events passed that caused the insecurity/paranoia of countries to misunderstand situations. There was the participation of A-H with Germany’s alliances giving them a powerful ally. In addition, they may have brought the trigger upon themselves by not handling disputes with Serbia properly. Seeing as short-term causes are so vital in acting like triggers, the foundations still lie in the long-term causes. Although Germany may not have played a big part in the trigger, they are the ones who have pushed and maybe gathered countries towards the war. This is the case especially after Germany created physical issues i.e. Arms & Naval race.